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Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience


Important Note

  • All Semester II bachelor and master psychology courses and examinations (2020-2021) will be offered in an on-line format.

  • If it is safe and possible to do so, supplementary course meetings may be planned on-campus. However, attendance at these meetings will not be required to successfully complete Semester II courses.

  • All obligatory work groups and examinations will be offered on-line during Central European Time, which is local time in the Netherlands.

  • Information on the mode of instruction and the assessment method per course will be offered in Brightspace, considering the possibilities that are available at that moment. The information in Brightspace is leading during the Corona crisis, even if this does not match the information in the Prospectus.

Entry requirements

Open to MSc Psychology (research) students


Developmental cognitive neuroscience investigates the relations between brain development and cognitive, affective and social development. This class will cover the biological bases of cognitive and affective functioning from a developmental perspective, focusing on childhood and adolescence. Fundamental questions that will be covered include: How does brain development, including changes in function, morphology, and connectivity, relate to typical and atypical development of cognitive and affective functions, such as learning, social development, motivation, and decision-making?

Course objectives

Explore relevant theoretical debates in developmental science and neuroscience methods used to address the relevant questions in this field. Consideration of the major methods of developmental cognitive neuroscience, with a focus on (functional) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and behavioral marker tasks. We will devote particular attention to the unique challenges and research considerations of applying these methods to the study of children and adolescents. Other course objectives are to gain proficiency with group presentations, leading a 'journal club' paper discussion, gaining knowledge of preregistration, and writing of an in-depth research proposal on a topic relevant to the field of developmental cognitive neuroscience.


For the timetables of your lectures, work groups and exams, please select your study programme in: Psychology timetables




Students need to enroll for lectures and work group sessions. Master’s course registration


Students are not automatically enrolled for an examination. They can register via uSis from 100 to 10 calendar days before the date. Students who are not registered will not be permitted to take the examination. Registering for exams

Mode of instruction

Class sessions will usually consist of a lecture period discussing a specific research topic in the DCN field, followed by a student-led journal club to discuss that week’s readings. To facilitate discussion, students should prepare questions that arose for them while reading the week’s material and answer questions about these readings beforehand. Student groups will be arranged, and each group will be responsible for co-leading one or more journal clubs. Groups may reserve topics. In addition, a brief weekly written assignment will be included, as well as a written research proposal due at the final class.

Assessment method

The assessment for this course is based on:

  • Class preparation and participation: Come to class having done all of the readings, and having completed a brief written assignment;

  • Take a turn in leading a literature discussion ('journal club')

  • Presenting: Give a presentation of your own research proposal;

  • Paper: A research proposal (including a brief preregistration of the proposted study) on the topic of your choice in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience.

The Institute of Psychology follows the policy of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences to systematically check student papers for plagiarism with the help of software. Disciplinary measures will be taken when fraud is detected. Students are expected to be familiar with and understand the implications of this fraud policy.

Reading list

All readings (journal articles) will be made available for download on the course blackboard website. Exemplary literature list Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience

  • Kilford, E. J., Garrett, E., & Blakemore, S. J. (2016). The development of social cognition in adolescence: An integrated perspective. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 70, 106-120.

  • Somerville, L. H. (2016). Searching for signatures of brain maturity: what are we searching for?. Neuron, 92(6), 1164-1167.

  • Sherman, L., Steinberg, L., & Chein, J. (2018). Connecting brain responsivity and real-world risk taking: Strengths and limitations of current methodological approaches. Developmental cognitive neuroscience, 33, 27-41.

Contact information

Dr. N. E. Blankenstein